Tories vow to stop junk-food ad curbs

The Conservative Party has ruled out any further curbs on junk-food advertising if it wins the next general election.

Instead, an incoming Tory government would seek a series of voluntary "responsibility agreements" with food and alcohol companies.

The move creates a dividing line between the Tories and Labour, which has consistently used the threat of statutory controls to force industries to tighten their ad codes. The Tories believe this approach is outdated and that the best way to tackle problems such as obesity and binge-drinking is to persuade companies to act responsibly.

In another sign of the party's support for the ad industry, Baroness Peta Buscombe, the chief executive of the Advertising Association, will join a Tory working party to draw up a "responsibility deal". It will be chaired by Dave Lewis, the chairman of Unilever in the UK and Ireland.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, promised on Wednesday that the Tories would end Labour's focus on fear of junk foods. He said: "We will not seek to extend further restrictions beyond those already implemented by Ofcom.

"Following the Ofcom review, we will look to a voluntary agreement across all media which balances freedom to advertise products with specific cross-industry and government action to promote improved diet."